Automotive, Aeronautics & Space


Non-destructively mapping stresses within real components (both new and used).


• Studying surface treatments and coatings, including ‘before and after’ studies on the same sample.


• Non-destructive radiography and computed tomography to locate organic materials, water, hydrogen and lithium, even when buried within several centimetres of metal.


• Investigating the atomic- and micro-structure of metals, alloys, glasses, ceramics, semiconductors, composites, metal foams and nanomaterials.


• Quantifying residual stresses in cast metal components in order to optimise manufacturing conditions and evaluate new alloys.


• Non-destructive quality-control testing to detect hidden defects and other manufacturing anomalies.


High-speed imaging of car engine parts in running engines, including visualising water and oil flow, in situ.


• Analysing tyre composition and formulations.


• Characterising materials (e.g. plastics, composites, fabrics, metals and alloys) to improve performance, safety and comfort.


• Tracking material changes during deformation (from milli- to pico- or femto-second timescales) to reveal structure-property relationships.


• In situ fatigue testing to understand failure mechanisms.


• Imaging ash deposits in automotive engines and diesel filters.


• Tracking combustion and catalytic processes in situ (both structural and chemical), under standard catalyst operating conditions.


• Damage threshold determination of optical components induced by ultrafast laser pulses (LIDT).


X-ray & Neutron diffraction

A leading car manufacturer used high-energy X-ray and neutron diffraction to non-destructively map residual stresses in a new type of aluminum alloy that has been developed for automotive applications. The data obtained from the mapping experiment has been used to validate and improve models of how these stresses form. This will ultimately allow engineers to design safer and longer-lasting components and materials.


Neutron imaging

Approximately 800 pyrotechnic parts for the Ariane 5 rocket programme passed through a neutron imaging quality control process. This non-destructive technique is sensitive to light elements, such as hydrogen-rich explosives, which in this case allowed the explosive filling inside the aluminium components to be checked


Expanded polypropylene (EPP) foams

Researchers from a leading car manufacturer, in collaboration with a UK university, used fast computed X-ray micro-tomography to continually image expanded polypropylene (EPP) foams during compression. Such foams are used in car bumpers and headrests due to their energy-absorption properties. The tomography results were used to construct a computer model predicting EPP deformation behaviour which can be used to optimise the amount of EPP used in vehicles.